GNK Dinamo Zagreb eliminated Romanian opponents to reach the UEFA Europa League group stage and will be hoping that success bodes well as FC Astra Giurgiu visit in Group D.
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GNK Dinamo Zagreb eliminated Romanian opponents to reach the UEFA Europa League group stage and will hope for more of the same as they take on FC Astra Giurgiu in Group D.
• Dinamo have won all but two of their ten games against Romanian opponents, though unusually both those defeats were at home (one of those 'home' fixtures was staged in Ljubljana, Slovenia).
• Two of Dinamo's wins came against Astra's one-time local rivals FC Petrolul Ploieşti in this season's UEFA Europa League play-offs (Astra moved from Ploiesti to Giurgiu in 2012). Astra will doubtless receive good information on Dinamo: Petrolul's coach Răzvan Lucescu is the godfather to one of Astra coach Daniel Isăilă's daughters.
• Competing in Europe for only the second time, Astra have won five of their six European away games to date, notably against FC Slovan Liberec and Olympique Lyonnais in qualifying this term. That lone defeat was at Maccabi Haifa FC in last season's UEFA Europa League play-offs.
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• Dinamo's Portuguese goalkeeper Eduardo turns 32 the morning after the Astra game. Eduardo played alongside on-loan Astra left-back Joãozinho at SC Braga last season.
• Dinamo right-back Ivo Pinto has experience of Romanian football, having turned out for CFR 1907 Cluj in 2012/13.
• Dinamo have featured in ten UEFA club competition group stages – four in the UEFA Champions League and six in the UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup – but have yet to make it through to the next phase.
• Previously a defensive midfielder, Dinamo coach Zoran Mamić started and ended his playing days with the club but spent much of his career in Germany with the likes of VfL Bochum 1848 and Bayer 04 Leverkusen. He became Dinamo coach in November 2013 after two caretaker spells, guiding them to the 2013/14 Croatian title.
• Mamić was an unused substitute when Croatia eliminated Romania in the 1998 FIFA World Cup round of 16.
• Astra coach Daniel Isăilă has been in charge of the club since 2013, though he stepped down for two months in 2014. A central defender in his playing days, he spent the bulk of his career with hometown outfit FC Braşov, whom he subsequently coached twice. He led Astra to the Romanian Cup – their first major trophy – last season.